by Shannon Otto
How does your organization define a volunteer leader? Is it a board member (at any level)? Is it anyone who pitches in on various projects, regardless of their “official” title?
Of course, board members should be commended, honored and thanked for their service to the organization. But what about the people who like to be involved but don't necessarily have the time to devote to being a board member? What about the people who just like to pitch in often and contribute to their organization?
Ribbons at annual meetings? A certificate? A shout-out at conferences? All decent ideas.
I really like the concept of sending a newsletter the organization's e-mail list, giving recognition to volunteers. My only caveat is that people may not open it or take the time to read it, so it may not have the intended affect. But who doesn't like to see their name in print (provided it's not in a police blotter or crime report)?
I think most volunteers just want some sort of recognition. It doesn't have to be a huge gesture. It can be as simple as just saying “thank you.” It can make a huge difference and let them know that their efforts are appreciated.
Of course, without a healthy and active board, your association wouldn't exist. But I think it's the other volunteers — the ones who contribute often, but perhaps in smaller ways, that help the association thrive.
I think it's crucial to recognize and thank anyone who volunteers and contributes. It doesn't have to be an over-the-top gesture. For example, I think a short handwritten note can be extremely meaningful, especially in our predominately digital world.
So even if they never serve on a board, be sure to recognize your volunteers, no matter which level they serve at. The smallest chapter can still make significant contributions to the organization as a whole.
In our busy lives, gratitude can truly go a long way.